The Immigrant Visa Process
- Submit Documents to NVC
- Pay Processing Fees
- Establish Financial Support
- Submit Visa Application and Supporting Documents
Affidavit of Support Forms (I-864 series forms) - Frequently Asked Questions
Who Needs an Affidavit of Support?
This form is legally required for many family-based and some employment based immigrants to show they will have adequate means of support after immigration to the United States. Generally, the following intending immigrants need an Affidavit of Support:
- Applicants for family-based immigrant visas, including certain orphans.
- Applicants for employment-based immigrant visas where a relative filed the immigrant visa petition or has a five percent or greater ownership interest in the business that filed the petition
For a detailed explanation regarding who needs an Affidavit of Support, and who is exempt, see Page 1 of the Instructions for each form: I-864EZ, I-864, I-864A, and Form I-864W. Those who are exempt must complete an I-864W.
Affidavit of Support Forms - National Visa Center (NVC) Role
The NVC will review the I-864, I-864EZ, I-864W or I-864A for completeness and correctness. If the form(s) is not correct or complete, the NVC will ask the petitioner/sponsor to correct and complete the applicable form. It will explain what is wrong with the previously submitted form. When a corrected I-864, I-864EZ, I-864W or I-864A is accepted by the NVC, it will be sent with the immigrant visa petition to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the applicant will apply for a visa. In order to download forms, you must have a recent version of Adobe Reader installed on your computer. If you do not have Adobe Reader, please visit http://www.adobe.com/. There is no charge to download Adobe Reader.
Please note that you may receive a “file corrupted” error message if you are using an older version of Adobe Reader.
FAQs: NVC’s role
How Does the Sponsor Get the Forms and Get Started?
The NVC provide instructions to the petitioner/sponsor at the appropriate time.
Who signs the forms and where are they submitted?
The petitioner/sponsor must complete and sign the appropriate Affidavit of Support form. Incomplete or incorrectly assembled forms will not be accepted. The completed forms and supporting documents must be sent to the NVC.
If the consular officer says the applicant needs a joint sponsor, does the joint sponsor send the I-864 to the NVC for review?
No, the NVC reviews only Affidavit of Support forms for petitions filed in the United States with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
If the consular officer says the applicant needs a joint sponsor, does the joint sponsor send the I-864 to the NVC for review?
No. If the post asks for a joint sponsor, the joint sponsor must send the completed I-864 directly to the applicant. The applicant will submit the I-864 to the consular officer for review.
A sponsor must be at least 18 years old and either a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (LPR). The sponsor must also have a domicile (residence) in the United States.
Domicile is a complex concept and must be evaluated on a case by case basis. To qualify as a sponsor, a petitioner residing abroad must have a principal residence in the United States and intend to maintain it indefinitely. Lawful permanent resident (LPR) sponsors must show they are maintaining their LPR status.
Many U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents reside outside the United States on a temporary basis. "Temporary" may cover an extended period of residence abroad. The sponsor living abroad must establish the following in order to be considered domiciled in the United States:
- He/she left the United States for a limited and not indefinite period of time,
- He/she intended to maintain a domicile in the United States, and
- He/she has evidence of continued ties to the United States.
Can a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) petitioner who is not domiciled (living) in the United States be a sponsor?
No, the law requires that sponsors be domiciled (live) in any of the United States, the District of Columbia, or any territory or possession of the United States.
If the petitioner does not have a domicile in the United States, can a joint sponsor file an I-864?
No, the petitioner must meet all the requirements to be a sponsor (age, domicile and citizenship), except those related to income, before there can be a joint sponsor.
What kinds of employment abroad can be counted as U.S. domicile?
- Employment temporarily stationed abroad with the U.S. government
- Employment temporarily stationed abroad with a U.S. institution of research recognized by the Attorney General
- Employment temporarily stationed abroad with a U.S. firm or corporation or its subsidiary engaged in whole or in part in the development of foreign trade and commerce with the United States
- Employment temporarily stationed abroad with a public international organization in which the United States participates by treaty or statute
- Employment temporarily stationed abroad with a religious denomination/group having a genuine organization within the United States.
- Employment temporarily stationed abroad as a missionary by a religious denomination/group or by an interdenominational mission organization within the United States
There may be other circumstances in which a sponsor can show that his or her presence abroad is of a temporary nature, and the sponsor has a domicile in the United States. The sponsor must satisfy the consular officer that he/she has not given up his/her domicile in the United States and established his/her domicile abroad.
How can a petitioner establish a domicile?
When a sponsor has clearly not maintained a domicile in the United States, he/she must re-establish a U.S. domicile to be a sponsor. The aspiring sponsor may take steps, including the examples given below, to show that the United States is his/her principal place of residence
- Find employment in the United States
- Secure a residence in the United States
- Register children in U.S. schools
- Relinquish residence abroad
- Other evidence of a U.S. residence
If the sponsor establishes U.S. domicile, it is not necessary for the sponsor to go to the United States before the sponsored family members. However, the sponsor must return to the United States to live before the sponsored immigrant may enter the United States. The sponsored immigrant must enter the United States with or after the sponsor.
Means Tested Public Benefits
Federal means tested public benefits are the following:
- Food stamps
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- State Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
FAQs: Means Tested Public Benefits
Can the applicant use government assistance or public benefits?
If the sponsored immigrant uses federal means tested public benefits, the sponsor must repay the cost of the benefits.
What assistance programs are not considered means tested public benefit programs?
The following types of assistance are not considered means tested public benefits and do not have to be repaid.
- Emergency Medicaid
- School lunches
- Immunizations and treatment for communicable diseases
- Student assistance to attend colleges and institutions of higher learning
- Some kinds of foster care or adoption assistance
- Job training programs
- Head start
- Short-term, non-cash emergency relief
Income Requirements and Poverty Guidelines
The Poverty Guidelines in effect on the filing date of an Affidavit of Support are used to determine whether the income requirement is met. For example, the effective date of the 2006 Poverty Guidelines was March 1, 2006. So, an I-864 filed on February 1, 2006, was subject to the 2005 Poverty Guidelines.
If the sponsor’s income meets the minimum Federal poverty guideline income requirement other assets generally need not be presented. However, the consular officer may request evidence of assets and liabilities, as necessary to determine eligibility.
May the petitioner/sponsor count assets to meet the 125 percent minimum income requirement?
Yes, except with form I-864EZ. The sponsor's income is totaled first. Personal assets and/or the income and assets of household members who have signed an I-864A are totaled next. Usually the sponsor must present evidence of location, ownership and value including liens and liabilities for each asset listed. The consular officer must find that the financial value of the asset can be converted to cash within one year to support the sponsored immigrant without undue harm to the sponsor or his/her family.
What Cash Value of Assets is Needed?
The total net value of assets, less liens and liabilities against them, must equal five times the difference between the sponsor's income and 125% of the poverty level for the household size.
Sponsors of spouses and children of U.S. citizens must only prove assets valued at three times the difference between the poverty guideline and actual household income.
Sponsors of orphans who will acquire citizenship after admission to the United States must only prove assets equal to the difference between the poverty guideline and actual household income.
What can be used as assets?
Assets easily convertible to cash can be savings, stocks, bonds and property.
Can the immigrant visa applicant count assets that he or she owns that are outside the United States, such as real estate or personal property?
Yes, under the following conditions:
- The assets must be convertible to cash within 12 months
- The applicant must show that the assets can be removed from the country where they are located. Many countries have limits on cash or liquid assets that can removed from the country
- The net value of assets is at least five times the difference between the sponsor's income and 125 percent of the poverty guideline for the household size.
Can free housing be counted as income?
Yes, sponsors receiving housing and other benefits in place of salary may count those benefits as income. The sponsor may count both taxable and non-taxable income (such as housing allowance). The sponsor must prove the nature and amount of non-taxable income. Evidence of such income can be a W-2 Form (such as Box 13 for military allowances), Form 1099 or other evidence.
Can a credible offer of employment for the visa applicant replace or supplement an insufficient Affidavit of Support?
No, the law does not recognize offers of employment in place of the I-864.
A job offer may show ability of the applicant to overcome ineligibility as a public charge, but does not meet any I-864 requirement.
Is a sufficient I-864 the only consideration for meeting any public charge issues at the time of the visa interview?
No, consular officers also look at other public charge factors affecting the financial situation of the sponsor and the applicant. Age, health, education, skills, financial resources and family status of the applicant and the sponsor are factors. Consular officers will verify to the extent possible that applicants have adequate financial support to prevent them becoming a public charge.
If the poverty guidelines change between the time the petitioner signed the I-864 and the issuance of an immigrant visa, must the petitioner/sponsor and joint sponsor, if required, submit a new I-864?
No, the I-864 remains valid indefinitely unless evidence of failure to meet the poverty guidelines in effect on the date of I-864 filing arises. The consular officer will determine whether the income claimed by the sponsor and documented with financial evidence meets the poverty guidelines in effect at the time the I-864 was filed. If the income claimed does not meet the poverty guidelines then the consular officer may request that the sponsor submit current year income information.
Completing the Affidavit of Support Forms
Detailed Step-by-Step Instructions are Included on Each Form: Each of the Affidavit of Support forms I-864W, I-864EZ, I-864 and I-864A have step-by-step instructions for completion by the sponsor or joint sponsor. The instructions explain which forms are required and how to properly complete them. It is important to carefully follow the instructions included with each form.
Important Note: Use the information in the Frequently Asked Questions below and other information on this website with, not instead of the detailed instructions on the applicable form(s).
Completing the Forms: Affidavit of Support forms should be completed on a computer, typed in CAPITAL letters. After the form is completed it must be printed and mailed. DO NOT attempt to submit the form electronically.
FAQs: Accompanying Family Members
Does each accompanying family member need separate documents if they are traveling with the principal applicant?
No, however, dependents immigrating with the principal applicant must have a signed original or a photocopy of the principal applicant's Form I-864, and I-864A if applicable. Copies may only be used by dependents named on the principal applicant's original forms.
Do family members following to join the principal applicant need separate Affidavits of Support and supporting documents?
Family members who immigrate later (follow-to-join) must have one complete set of the principal applicant's I-864 and supporting documents. Each arriving immigrant must present an I-864 Affidavit of Support with original signatures.
What do family members need if they have separate visa petitions?
Each family member with a separate visa petition must submit a signed Form I-864 with supporting documents from the petitioner/sponsor and Form I-864As with supporting documents from the joint sponsor(s) if applicable.
Is one joint sponsor allowed to sponsor only some of the applicants while the other applicants are sponsored by another joint sponsor on the same petition?
Yes, but only under certain circumstances. Two joint sponsors can be used per family unit applying to immigrate under the same petition. If two joint sponsors are used, each joint sponsor is responsible only for the intending immigrant(s) listed on the joint sponsor’s Form I-864. Every joint sponsor must meet the minimum income requirement, citizenship, residence and age requirements.
Death of the Sponsor
If the sponsor dies after the principal applicant has immigrated to the United States but before other qualified family members have immigrated, can another sponsor be named?
Yes, if the petitioner or primary sponsor dies before all qualified family members have immigrated, a new sponsor may submit a Form I-864 to become the primary sponsor regardless of the status of the deceased petitioner's estate.
Expiration of the I-864
Will the I-864 I submitted expire if my relative's interview is delayed for any reason?
No, the validity of the I-864, I-864 EZ, or I-864A is considered indefinite; beginning from the date the sponsor files it with the National Visa Center, the U.S. embassy or consulate.
More Information on the I-864
If you need more information on the I-864 Affidavit of Support see 9 FAM 42.63 Procedural Notes, 9 FAM 40.41 Procedural Notes and Sections 212(a)(4) and 213A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The complete FAM and INA are available by visiting FOIA on the Department of State website.
Also see How Do I File an Affidavit of Support for a Relative? at http://www.uscis.gov.